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Fig Rust

Cerotelium (Physopella) fici (E.J. Butler) Arthur

Fig rust, caused by the fungus Cerotelium fici (formerly Physopella fici), is the most common disease
of figs in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region of
the southeastern U.S. Fig rust occurs only on the
leaves and does not affect the fruit directly. Rust
generally develops late in the summer, and in years
when disease is severe, it can cause the trees to
defoliate in a matter of a few weeks. If this happens
on a regular basis, the overall growth of the trees
can be reduced and yields can be affected. Another
consequence of defoliation is that if it occurs early
in the summer, the trees will put out new growth
that is then at risk of being damaged by early frosts.
On the other hand, if defoliation occurs in the fall,
the trees may go dormant earlier than usual, which
then protects them from early frosts.
Initially, symptoms of fig rust are visible as small,
yellowish spots on the upper surface of the leaves.
As these spots (or lesions) grow larger, they turn a
reddish-brown color but remain relatively smooth.
On the lower surface of the leaf, the lesions are
a reddish-brown color and have a slightly raised,
blister-like appearance. Heavily infected leaves
often turn yellow or brown, particularly around the
edges, and drop prematurely.
Since there are no fungicides registered for
use on edible figs in Louisiana, the management
of this disease relies solely on the use of cultural
practices, such as raking up and destroying infected
leaves and selective pruning of the tree to increase
airflow through the canopy, which promotes more
rapid drying of the foliage. However, even these
practices only offer marginal control of the disease.

Fig. 1. Symptoms of fig rust as seen on the upper and lower leaf

Fig. 2. Fig rust urediniospores produced on the lower leaf surface as seen with a microscope.

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Louisiana State University Agricultural Center
William B. Richardson, Chancellor
Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station
David J. Boethel,Vice Chancellor and Director
Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service
Paul D. Coreil,Vice Chancellor and Director

Don Ferrin, Ph.D., Professor
Charles Overstreet, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Plant Pathology and
Crop Physiology
Photo Credit
Don Ferrin

Pub. 3159

(online only)


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